From The Long War Journal
Philippines-based jihadist groups pledge allegiance to the Islamic State
By Caleb Weiss | February 14, 2016 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @Weissenberg7
Still from an Islamic State video featuring Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon (center) pledging allegiance to Baghdadi
The Islamic State has officially recognized pledges of allegiance from several jihadist groups based in the Philippines. The Islamic State has not yet made an official “wilayat,” or province, for the Philippines or the wider Southeast Asian region. At least one portion of the groups included are led by Isnilon Hapilon, a US-designated terrorist, who heads the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The pledges, or bayat, were accepted in a video that was recently released by the Islamic State’s Al Furat Media – a largely Russian-language media outlet. The video shows that the Islamic State is officially recognizing that several groups have pledged allegiance to it and its leader. Additionally, other groups in the region, such as Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid and the Mujahidin Indonesian Timor, have also pledged. It is possible that the jihadist group will announce such a province in the future, especially after conducting a suicide assault in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. The recognition of the pledges could pave the way for such an announcement.
The video features Hapilon and two other group leaders recording their pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. The other leaders include a figure named Abu Anas al Muhajir, who was identified as the emir (leader) of Katibat Ansar al Sharia, and Abu Harith al Filipini, a delegate sent by the leader of Katibat Marakah al Ansar. Additionally, brief combat footage was included in the video in which Abu Anas al Muhajir was shown to have been killed fighting.
The Katibat Ansar al Sharia, Katibat Marakah al Ansar, and at least a portion of ASG are not the only groups in the Philippines which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Another group, identified as Ansar al Khilafah in the Philippines has also pledged allegiance to Baghdadi. Last August, the group first emerged by explicitly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in a video released on YouTube. In April, the group released another video to threaten the Filipino government and American soldiers in the Philippines. According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a spokesman for Ansar al Khilafah threatened to “deploy suicide bombers” in the country and that the gro